Top Reasons for Buildings and Houses to Collapse

Shelter is one of the top needs for human to survive. That is why it is best to invest in a well-built one.

You may have seen in the news or in the social media wherein buildings and homes collapse when hit by an average earthquake. To be prevent this from happening, one has to be knowledgeable why it happens.

Here are the top reasons why buildings or residential houses collapse.

  • Not Hiring the Right Professionals

With the boom of DIY’s and all that stuff, people tend to do things their own way. Other things that we are guilty of is getting the wrong persons (normally, non-technical) to do and plan the different trades. Architectural plans must be created, signed, and sealed by Architects. Structural plans by structural / civil engineers. Plumbing plans by sanitary engineers and master plumbers (depending of the type of building). Electrical plans by Professional Electrical Engineers. HVAC by Professional Mechanical Engineers. That is how things should be.

Draftsmen, when they do plot the plans, should be instructed by the right professional. Please don’t be fooled by non-tech people telling you that they can ‘plan’ your homes because they are ‘experienced’. Planning and designing are different from plotting. When a person is not licensed to sign and seal that certain trade, the proper term for them to use is ‘plot’, definitely not ‘design’ or ‘plan’.

Professionals attended schools for several years and passed professional exams for a reason. If they passed the licensure exam, meaning, they are equipped with knowledge to design and plan your homes safe for use. Get the right professionals to design your homes, please.

  • Not Following What is Planned

The most crucial part in building construction is the realization of what is planned according the proper construction techniques and practices. There are proper techniques to cast of foundation, columns, beams, and other main structural components of a buildings. There is a proper way to terminate beams, slabs, columns, and others should concreting halts due to whatever disruptions. Suspended slab (depending on the structural engineer’s notes and plans) should be casted monolithic to a portion of a column. Most DIYers or contractors with no technical experience do not know this.

Contractors that you hire should be knowledgeable on this stuff. There are corner reinforcing bars that should be used in openings. Corner bars used in window and door openings is not the same with the stairs to second floor slab openings. There is a proper technique in laying out reinforcement bars for suspended slab. These things are mostly stated in the structural plans. The contractor that you get should have the experience and knowledge to interpret what is planned, understand what is in the trades’ professional notes for it to be properly built in actual.

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  • Using Substandard Materials

When your home is designed by the right professional, they normally include ‘Materials Specifications’. Material specification is a document which states what material, grade, color, specifications, even identifications number (IDs) are to be used in the project.

In example is the architectural materials specifications which is provided by the Architect. You can see what tile is used, the dimension, color, corresponding ID, sometimes includes which supplier is used for all the tiling works.

Another example is the structural reinforcing bars. If the structural note says minimum grade for 12mm diameter bar and below is G40, while 16mm diameter bar is G60, then follow and procure it as stated. Do not be fooled by some random, cheeky contractor who downgraded materials for additional profit. Please be aware that ‘materials specification’ exists and that is where the contractor should base the stuff to be procured and installed.

  • Improper Usage and Overloading

You may have seen some viral photo online where bridges collapse. Same is true with structures. Always use a building based on its designed intended for use. Bed room in the second floor should be used as bed rooms and not as store rooms / stack rooms. Why? Because engineers use certain algorithm when they designed it. Gymnasiums has different set of ‘algorithms’ (let’s just say it as it is for the sake of non-tech people) compared to residential houses. Although there is enough factor of safety, you may unknowingly exceed it if you put sacks of rice and heavy tools on it.

When you want to convert your upper floor space for a fitness gym, please consult and ask professionals to check the credibility of the structure first before putting heavy weights and fitness equipment on it.

  • Calamity or Natural Disasters

You have attended earthquake drills, fire drills, tsunami drills and other drills, right? This is the initiative of our government to prepare people for unforeseen natural disasters. You may even heard of “The Big One” (an anticipation of a strong and disastrous earthquake that could happen anytime). Our buildings and residential house adhere to certain maximum ‘recorded’ factor of safety for the natural disaster. But since the Big One did not happen yet, there is really no maximum factor for this one. God forbid, we experience “The Big One” in our lifetime.

Record braking typhoons carrying strong winds has been visiting us recently. We have seen photos online of houses destroyed due to flashfloods. Some location in the country did not experienced floods before, yet, they experienced a disastrous one outright. How come? You may ask. Climate change it is. Engineers has been dealing with it by building stronger and more resilient structures. Some even opt to use factor of safety way above the requirement just for their buildings to be stronger.

  • Human-Initiated Demolitions

It is sad to build something just for someone else to tear it down. This includes wars and terrorist’s attack. No matter how strong a building or a structure is, it is no match against bombs and missile attack. Unless, of course if a structure is designed to withstand attacks.

On the other hand, there are some human-induced demolitions which is good. In example trampling down an old building to build something new. Buildings have serviceable lifespan. In addition, if a structure was hit by several natural disasters, its structural credibility will eventually lessen leading to demolition. If this buildings or houses cannot be remediated with retrofitting or others means for it to safe for use once again, then, this needs to be evacuated to prevent any casualties due to building breakdown.

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